33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs by Dorian Lynskey - review by Charles Shaar Murray

Charles Shaar Murray

Rebel Rebel

33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs

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In 1972, National Lampoon released a satirical album called Radio Dinner. In one skit, Bob Dylan (viciously impersonated by Christopher Guest, later of Spinal Tap fame) voiced a commercial for a nostalgic compilation entitled Golden Protest. After singing, ‘The spangled dwarf in his bowtie/The infantry that don’t ask why’ (itself a fairly nifty parody of Dylan’s early lyric style), Guest’s dummy Dylan husks, ‘Remember those fabulous Sixties? The marches, the be-ins, the draft-card burnings ... and, best of all, the music. Well, now Apple House has collected the finest of those songs on one album.’

Forty years ago, believe it or not, that was actually funny. Nowadays, only old folks (and old folkies) would even understand that it was intended to be a joke – let alone one meriting laughter. The process of what The Clash’s Joe Strummer, in ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith

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